Hybrid SUVs, Now and in the Future ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Hybrid SUVs, Now and in the Future

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Hybrid SUVs, Now and in the Future

Ford Escape Hybrid SUVYou have five choices if you're looking for a hybrid SUV today. There's the Ford Escape Hybrid/Mercury Mariner Hybrid, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Lexus RX 400h and the Saturn Vue Greenline.

Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid -- SUV
The Ford Escape Hybrid and the Mercury Mariner Hybrid are twins, with the Mariner coming with more luxury components. The 2008 Ford Escape (4dr SUV AWD, 2.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT) has a MSRP of $26,825, while the Mariner (4dr SUV AWD, 2.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT) comes in at $27,515. They are rated at 152 ft-lbs. @ 4250 rpm and can seat 5 comfortably. They also have the smallest gas tank (15 gallons) and get about 29/27 city/highway mpg.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUVToyota Highlander Hybrid -- SUV
The Highlander Hybrid is bigger than the Escape Hybrid in most ways and it has a price tag to match. The 2007 Highlander Hybrid (4dr Midsize SUV AWD w/3rd Row, 3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT) has an MSRP of $34,430. But you get a larger engine (6 cylinders vs the 4 in the Escape) and third row seating. You also get higher fuel economy at 31/27 city/highway mpg and a larger gas tank 17.2 gallons, which means you can go farther on each tank of gas.

Lexus RX 400h -- SUVLexus RX400h SUV
The RX 400h is the luxury SUV. Capable of getting 31/27 city/highway mpg, the 2007 400h (4dr SUV AWD, 3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT) has an MSRP of $42,580. But for that, you'll get all the options including a six disc CD player, lots of leather and trim, and more options for moving your seat around. You also get more horsepower (268 hp@5600 rpm), and more towing capacity (212 ft-lbs.@4400 rpm).

Saturn Vue Hybrid -- SUVSaturn Vue Hybrid SUV
The Vue Greenline, unlike the other hybrid SUVs available today, is a mild hybrid. Which means the engine cannot move the vehicle on electric power alone. The electric motor (through a Belt Assist System) is there to assist the gas engine. This gives the Vue an EPA rating of 27/32 mpg, allowing it to claim the number one spot for highway fuel economy. It also comes with the smallest price tag, with an MSRP of $22,370 for the 2007 model (4dr SUV, 2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 4A). The smaller engine does what it can, giving 170 hp@6600 rpm and a torque of 162 ft-lbs.@4400 rpm.

The Future of Hybrid SUVs
If you're not looking right now, but are willing to wait until the end of the year or even into next year, there are many more hybrid SUVs coming out soon. GM, BMW and DaimlerChrysler partnered together to develop the 2-mode (sometimes called dual-mode) hybrid system. The new hybrid system is promised to give each of the new hybrid SUVs 25% improvement in fuel economy.

GM will be first to market with the Yukon Hybrid and Tahoe Hybrid late this year. GM is also going to refit the Saturn Vue Hybrid with a dual mode engine next year. Chrysler should be releasing the hybrid Aspen (yeah, it's got a hemi) and the Dodge Durango hybrid sometime next year. BMW has promised hybrids in the next three years. And at some point, Mazda says it will release the Tribute Hybrid. The Tribute is a cousin to the Escape/Mariner, so the only question about the Tribute you should have is, what took so long?

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

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